These are examples of Proprioceptive Writes—the name for a timed writing session during a writing circle—that was completed during The Mystic Listens: Writing as a Spiritual Practice. Every Write is different. Some feel scattered and non-linear. Some feel like downloads from the Divine. Some Writes feel cohesive and whole while others feel like snippets of overheard conversations. Every Write offers insight of some kind.

In a Write, I simply quieted my mind and connect with the Divine (or my Inner Wisdom) by imagining a tendril of love reaching out from my heart, and practiced “inner hearing,” listening for a word or phrase or idea that is ready to be explored.

Writes are hand-written and these have been typed up to be shared.

True North: Heard by Rev. Jessica Steward

I am my own True North.

My destination and my journey are encoded in my DNA, written on my skin, branded on my soul.

Every moment I arrive. I am whole. I have been given this life. This chance to do the subtle work. To focus on the minutiae. My compass is my heart. What does it beat for? Who does it love? How does it love?  How often does it hurt? Who does it hurt for?

Every question acts as a lodestone moving me in the right direction. But I don’t listen. I am not good at listening. Who wants to hear what I have to say if I can’t even listen to myself? My mind is always calibrating. Re-calibrating. Focusing. Re-focusing. New information. More input. It goes in and I add it to the hopper, while the grindstone gets to work, separating wheat from chaff, truth from fiction. I hear the stories I tell myself. I hear the stories other people tell themselves. The lies of their weaknesses. I can feel the truth thrumming under their skin. I will do this. I will do that. This is how I’ll make money. this is how I’ll make a difference. Safe choice after safe choice. Opportunity after opportunity missed, lost, avoided. The voice. It’s clear. It’s clear in each of us. Listen. Listen to it. It is speaking to us. But we ignore it, numb out, avoid it, quiet it, deny it, doubt it. Why? Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? What has this world done to us, this coven of vibrant witches, these fate weavers, dream makers, soul healers, deities, empresses, and queens?  We are women and we are warriors. We create and we destroy. We are terrible and we are divine. We are paradox entwined with divinity. But we are terrifying in our power. We have listened to the perjurious stories. And we believe them. Be small. Be quiet. Be compliant. Be soft. No. Softer. Softer than that. Don’t look at me. Look at me. Watch me. But don’t draw attention to yourself. Meek and meager. 

I can feel the fire rippling under my skin. The hair on my arms rising at the thought of our oppression.

What is my history with oppression? {This is a “proprioceptive” question that helps me dive deeper into a concept that catches my attention or the attention of the Divine like an energetic “boop”.}

My history is oppression. Watching strong women be carved up, shot down, pushed aside, ignored, betrayed, violated, blamed. I have watched the strongest women I know slowly worn down as the water of patriarchal fervor cuts them down to bone. Stripping away everything. Every woman who stands up, speaks out, tells the truth, she is torn down, ripped up, called a slut, whore, cunt, sack of shit, lying liar. Gold digger. Money grubber. Bitter. Angry. Doesn’t know her place. Who does she think she is? Watching women attack women is the ultimate betrayal. We are not even safe from ourselves. Our own internalized misogyny.

What do I mean by we’re not even safe from ourselves? {This is another “proprioceptive” question that helps me dive deeper into a concept that catches my attention or the attention of the Divine like an energetic “boop”.}

Women should be able to look at another woman and trust her. To know she is mystery and divinity. We should be able to see her and know the measure of her not by how she looks or by how she behaves, but how she radiates her authenticity of spirit. Instead we are plucked, sucked, tucked. Injected. Lifted. Compressed. Teased. Blown dry. Our wildness is gone. We cannot recognize one another because our wildness, our indigeity has been stolen from us, taken by the systems of oppression that lock us into cages as we stalk along the metal bars, driven to madness by our own capture. The capture that we helped bring about and that we contribute to every day.  We are complicit in our own oppression.

What’s my history with being complicit? {This is a “proprioceptive” question that helps me dive deeper into a concept that catches my attention or the attention of the Divine like an energetic “boop”.}

Too many times I have stayed silent. Sat down. Turned away. Run away. To stay safe. Or at least to embrace my perception of safety when really I’m not safe at all. And while I may have averted the male gaze by being fat and staying that way, my body has become my own tomb. I have opened myself to be both invisible and an object of ridicule in a fatphobic world. In that way I am complicit. I have allowed myself to labor under the illusion of safety even when I know that if my sisters aren’t safe, then nobody is safe. 

But what is to be done? How can I speak up, speak out, stand up, step up, raise my voice, raise my fist if I am always afraid and live in a culture that would sooner focus on my body than on my voice, my brilliance, my vision?

Practice remembering. Remember what it feels like when I allow myself to be my own true north. To know that the direction of my life will always point in the direction of truth. Of honesty. Of love. Of kindness. Know that my voice, my power, my vision was given to me as a gift and is not meant to be squandered but shared. Not in a vacuum. Not as the apex of a pyramid of power. But with arms held wide, the hot vibration of power gathering as I clasp the arms of other women, other feminine mystics and consorts, who have the power of vision and voice, whose gifts course through them at different and complementary frequencies. Different women who are from different clans but still part of the same community and sometimes the same family. My gift is my magnetism of truth-saying. My gift is holding people accountable to themselves, reminding them that their own True North is actualized not by themselves as solopreneur or LadyBoss but within community, surrounded by the beauty of the integrated masculine and the embodied divine feminine. Together. With each other. Not at the apex of a pyramid but in the clutching arms of a brave new circle of light.

Devotion: Heard by Rev. Jessica Steward

How do I know I’m real?

It’s a question that comes up frequently and I’m always slightly baffled by the words.

What is real? What makes a person real?

What is my history with real? {This is a “proprioceptive” question that helps me dive deeper into a concept that catches my attention or the attention of the Divine like an energetic “boop”.}

I’m not sure I have one. I’m not sure if my mother was ever real. She has passed from memory to myth and there is this beautiful gift of having her come alive briefly when I see her things and hold them. But they don’t hold her memory any longer. They instead hold my memory of me remembering her. If I am quiet, I can imagine her skin still and that relieves me.

If I pause, I can bring to mind the texture of her hair and the shape of her nails. I can recall the quirk of how she held her mouth and the slope of her shoulder. But the sound of her voice has faded. And as I sit here, recalling her and pulling up each memory looking for a gap, expecting to find one, I am pleasantly surprised that I can still find her here.

And now I can feel an internal eye roll begin as I revisit and retreat to my own favorite topic: a woman who died 25 plus years ago. When will she stop haunting me? When will I stop needing to remember her, my life becoming a shrine to hers? And I wonder, are my memories of her and her importance in my life really so different than these rooms in my attic*? Even though I didn’t know they existed, they are still time capsules that once held the men who studied and worshiped and led here.

This house is a path of devotion and is my devotion to living the life my mother never got to live so bad? Is it even about her any longer or is her memory merely a totem of what can be so easily lost if we don’t live our lives more boldly, more daringly, and with more assertiveness? There is no place for lies or someday-maybes or fearful withholding here. We do not stay trapped in the attic of our minds forever. At some point we must let the novitiates out and release them to the congregations of our life. We must let them down from their cells and release them into the world and let them speak praise of a holy life of devotion, a devotion to the one true path of authenticity and love.

What is my story of devotion? {This is a “proprioceptive” question that helps me dive deeper into a concept that catches my attention or the attention of the Divine like an energetic “boop”.}

It is a story of commitment, of showing up, of thoughtful study and of hopefulness and love. Devotion is not blindness but discernment. It is not hapless but deliberate. It deliberate and it will test you. Devotion requires showing up every day.

What am I devoted to? That’s the question isn’t it? I don’t know and that worries me. I want to have devotion because devotion gives a life meaning and I worry my life has none.

How do I find my path of devotion? {I ran out of time during my Write. I can take this question into my next Write and begin “listening” to the Divine from here and writing what I hear internally.}

*I live in a former parsonage and there are finished rooms in my unheated attic that were clearly used by previous owners for matters related to the church.

If you’re interested in joining a seasonal writing circle, join The Mystic Listens: Writing as a Spiritual Practice in our free kindness community, The House of Belonging. Each session is donations-based—you can join for free or for any nominal amount to help keep the community accessible.